Netizen Voices: Thought, Hope, and Imagination

Shi Shusi, director of the editorial board for the Worker’s Daily weekly magazine, piqued his Weibo followers on November 24 with this post:
ShiShusi: U.S. Supreme Court Judge Louis Brandeis: “It is hazardous to discourage thought, hope, and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government.”
The quotation comes from Brandeis’ famous defense of freedom of speech in the 1927 case of Whitney v. California. California had convicted Anita Whitney under the Criminal Syndicalism Act in 1919 for her role in establishing the state’s Communist Labor Party, which it alleged encouraged the overthrow of the government. The case went before the Supreme Court for possible violation of due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the court unanimously agreed that California had not violated the amendment, Brandeis spoke out against the presumption of guilt for association with an organization that it merely alleged taught violence. The quotation is part of a larger argument in favor of any speech which does not pose “clear and imminent danger.”
Brandeis’ words as no less powerful out of context. Many readers find Brandeis, and in turn Shi, inspiring. Others scoff at seeing this quotation from journalist for one of China’s oldest government mouthpieces. From CDT Chinese:
PoliticalCommissarq: Mr. Shi’s citation is quite right. I hope the government can design a channel for people to vent their anger.
Evanxin: reply@PoliticalCommissarq: This already exists. It’s called Weibo.
VMicroViewpoints: I guess this theory doesn’t hold in countries like North Korea and West Korea?
argence: Don’t they understand these principles? The only thing they demand is that the current government maintain stability for the time being.
liqiao68: Gradually getting used to servility and repression, that’s what to be feared.
BeiYesUtopia: Everything that ought to

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One Response to Netizen Voices: Thought, Hope, and Imagination

  1. Will says:

    Congratulations to the voices in academia, media circles, and online who question continuing servility and self-censorship in the face of an Orwellian authoritarian regime.